Renewables generation has reached a record share of the UK’s energy mix, according to data published by the UK Government’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) on 27 July.  

Renewables made up 41.5% of electricity generation, compared with 39.6% in 2021, as both wind and solar reached record levels.  

“The key driver in 2022 was new capacity and an improvement in weather conditions compared to 2021,” according to DESNZ. “Within the technologies, records were set for onshore and offshore wind, solar PV and anaerobic digestion.”

Power generation from fossil fuels fell by 1.8% to 40.8%, with oil down nearly 30% when compared with 2019. Natural gas accounted for the majority of fossil fuel generation representing 38.4% of the UK’s energy mix, down 1.4% compared with 2021 levels.  

Following the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, natural gas remains a key source of power generation in the UK. Natural gas also provides 84% of the UK’s heating needs. 

Low-carbon generation in the UK

Nuclear generation accounted for 14.7% of total generation in 2022, the lowest since 2008. The UK Government has announced plans to reignite the UK’s nuclear industry. Ministers have set a target for 25% of the UK’s energy to come from nuclear generation by 2050.  

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The UK Government also has a target in place to develop up to 50GW of offshore wind by 2030. Current levels remain at around 13.7GW, meaning that capacity will need to increase by around 265% in the next seven years. Rising costs have resulted in several blows to the UK’s offshore wind industry.  

Last week Swedish developer Vattenfall announced plans to halt the development of a 1.4GW offshore wind project in the North Sea due to “challenging market conditions”. Meanwhile, earlier in the year, a number of major renewables developers called for tax breaks due to the rising production costs.  

“Government and industry must pull out all the stops to increase our energy security by ensuring that vital new clean energy projects can be built faster, onshore and offshore,” said trade association RenewableUK’s chief executive Dan McGrail, commenting on today’s statistics

“This is not the time to waver or row back on policies accelerating the energy transition. On the contrary, we need more of a focus from the government on ensuring we continue to unlock investment in renewables,” he added.